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tv   Cuomo Prime Time  CNN  December 20, 2018 10:00pm-11:00pm PST

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a hole in the ground. a reminder, please don't miss anderson's show, full circle, a daily interactive broadcast on facebook, always great to watch. hand it over to chris cuomo, cuomo "prime time" starts now. welcome to prime time, we're having a day that this president will not want to remember. and it is one that we can never forget. the man charged with keeping our country safe, defense secretary jim mattis is out. not retiring as the president claims. he quit in protest of the president of the united states. a four-star general is here to help make sense of the moves. mattis exit comes on a day of epic uncertainty. the president blowing up the deal to keep the government open. insisting on the wall in a house vote when many in the senate have already left. border politics. boiling over. did you see louie gutierrez storm out of the house hearing.
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calling the dhs secretary a remorse of the liar to his face. he's here. and so is the one republican trump supporter in congress that i could get to come on. has matt gates gotten a wakeup call about this presidency? the time is now, my friends, let's get after it. no less than bob corker once said, there were three men separating our country from che -- chaos. ogs. rex tillerson, john kelly and james mattis. all three gone or going. just think about the last 36 hours. early yesterday morning in a surprise to his own state department and the pentagon, the president decided alone to pull our troops out of syria, falsely declaring the war against isis there won. the only person happy about the decision, vladimir putin. republicans raked their president over the coals. >> i think we're going to pay a price for it if it's not reversed.
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>> it's hard to imagine any president would wake up and make this kind of decision with this little communication. with this little preparation. >> to say they're defeated is an overstatement and is fake news. >> that was just the beginning. >> later yesterday morning, the president seemed to choose workers over that imaginary wall and backed out of the shutdown. but then he reversed course today. really catching senators in the lurch. and in this moment of crisis, who makes the case to the country about ending two major military actions? a shutdown looming over christmas and a border crisis? this guy. right now as we speak, there is a surge of illegal immigration heading authored our country that presents a national crisis now. not a month from now, not a year from now, right now. >> on a day like this you send out the man who is the metaphor for what people question about your judgment? thank god the markets were closed by then. by 4:00 p.m. eastern, another 464 points knocked off the dow.
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the nasdaq below its lowest point in august. flirting with bare market territory. then came 5:21 p.m. eastern, the gut punch, the real wall, the man who stood between the president and his petulence went to the white house and said to the president, you have to listen to me, you can't do that. he was unable. in that moment, he decided. this is as good as it gets. he left, he put out a scathing letter a total rebuke of the president's world view saying, my views on treating allies with respect and also being clear eyed about maligned actors. are strongly held informed by over four decades of emersion in these issues, because you have the right to have a secretary of defense whose views are better aligned with these and better subjects, i believe it is right for me to step down from my position.
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cnn learned late this evening once again this president will double down on a controversial decision. the military has been ordered to withdraw half the troops in afghanistan. if your head's not spinning, you're not listening. i want to bring in wesley clark and phil mud. we need to steady the ship, give me a sense of the proportion of what's going on in our government right now? >> i think the -- this is a really dangerous time for the u.s. government, it's christmas holidays. you have a lot of snap decisions being made by a president who is famous for snap decisions. these are consequential decisions. he's under tremendous pressure, obviously from the mueller investigation. the rumor is coming out of the middle east are astonishing, when you listen to them, that he's looking for a way out. that he's taken huge bribes from foreign countries and mueller has some or all of this in the
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works, his children are in danger. so i mean, trump's head is spinning, you have to look at these decisions as not only dangerous in themselves, but probably part of his bargaining strategy for how he wants to exit the u.s. government and try to avoid impeachment or criminal indictment for himself and his family. this is a really dangerous time. >> keeping it to the specifics of the impact of the military moves, the idea of the war being over with isis. the idea of pulling out half of the troops in afghanistan. what's the risk and reality? >> well, the war is not over with isis, and you handed the field to russia and the iranians which is odd considering president trump has been so hard on the iranians, that's clearly a bad move. in afghanistan, we've been -- we've never put the resources in there from the beginning to try to really work that mission. i don't know who's coming out,
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we'd have to look at what the structure is, can you do? how much can you do with half the troops gone? you can still do something. i always felt that biden's plan was a workable idea back in 2009, we went the other way with trying to reinforce it, but we never put enough troops in to do a good job. the afghanistan is a question mark. i do think that secretary mattis did the right thing for himself and for the country. he's been disempowered by having been ignored, his advice ignored by the president. he can't be effective in that role, he can't be effective with allies, he can't be effective with the white house. and so it's the -- he's doing the smart thing and the right thing. i know it's upsetting for the country. the country has to face the consequences of the election of 2016 and deal with the reality of the man that's in the white house. >> so let me bring phil in here, let me read another excerpt of the letter and get your take,
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believe it or not you agree this may be frightening in the moment, somehow might be cleansing overall. one core belief i've always held, our nation is linked to the strength of our unique and comprehensive system of alliances and partnerships. the u.s. remains the leader in the free world, we cannot maintain that without maintain ing strong relationships with respect to the allies. >> this is not too thinly veiled if you're in the business i'm in. this is a message to the president that says, i'm out and you're dead wrong. look at the three basic pieces of that letter. you just mentioned on alliances, world war i, world war ii ancient history. how about afghanistan, iraq, how we counter with nato, russian activities in places like eastern ukraine and crimea. the president went out of his way publicly to embarrass nato.
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publicly. so i think if you look at nato and the alliances as historical, they're not. we use them in places like, after 9/11 and afghanistan, we might use them in the future against russia. two quick comments in addition to that. the former secretary of defense or soon to be former secretary of defense also said, forget about our allies, what about our adversaries, i disagree with you on how you deal with potential adversaries, including china and russia. final thing in the letter, find me the sentence in that letter where the former four-star general tells his command in chief, i appreciate the opportunity to serve you personally, the president of the united states. he doesn't say it. that letter is tough. >> the democrats want to get out of syria, they want to get out of afghanistan. one of the big surprises of barack obama's election was that he ran on getting out of iraq, and went into afghanistan. how do you think this plays with them or how should it? >> should we get out of these
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places eventually. we've been at war in afghanistan for 18 years, yes. let's talk about style for a moment. transgender policy in the pentagon, exercises with the north koreans, retreating from syria and afghanistan. can you explain to me what the process was to coordinate with the secretary of defense and the national security council about how to talk to people like the turks, the jordanians, our kurdish allies in the syrian fight? part of the question here -- i can't speak for the secretary of defense. part of the question is not just what we're doing, but how do we do policy by tweet? how do we coordinate this. that's what i would ask. >> general mattis reportedly was not in favor of that big meet and greet with kim jong-un, this is not the way we get these guys to do anything. and sure enough, today they said, we're not giving up anything until everything is gone. you're back to where you started there. the big concern is security. are we going to be okay? kelly is gone, mcmaster is gone,
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and now mattis is gone. all the people the president pointed to. all the generals around me we'll be fine. now what? >> we're in a new world here, but mattis is not gone for another six or eight weeks, the congress has its say. and we've got to come to terms with the character of the president and how he makes decisions. and congress has to assert itself. the democratic leadership in the house will assert itself, will the republican leadership in the senate assert itself? >> that's the big question, general. >> this is the time we need help. >> they have been sitting back and watching. even on the house side, you had paul ryan, people with great ambitions for him. he said yesterday i always remained myself, and that's my tip to everybody else. no, he didn't. he sat back and watched this president do things he used to call out in president obama. he's not alone. do you think this is a tipping point? do you believe that republican men and women of good will who raise their hand and took an
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oath are going to step up? >> i think it's the start of the tipping point. i mean, it's really two things, it's the behavior of the president, and the information that's continuing to leak out through court indictments and hearings and other things like this. president trump is being slammed from both directions here. and he's fighting back, and this is his nature. this is the time that -- especially the united states senate has to step up its responsibilities. >> well, with all due respect to you both. if he were a real fighter, he would be where you are right now, addressing the american people, he would be going through the media and saying, hold on, everything's fine. let me tell you why i did what i did. and how it fits in and what it means. i am your president, i will reassure you. he did the opposite. he put out that guy who's a part of a real extreme part of trumpism. he showed why today, instead of doing it himself, he put out a proxy who is not his best foot forward.
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the question becomes, the stock markets, border politics coming over, you may have a shut down over christmas, now you have these military moves. do you believe this is bottom for this presidency, phil? >> i do not. when i'm looking at the congressional response today, including issues for funding on the border wall. you see this evening, how many people are out especially from house republicans saying, i disagree with the president giving us a bunch of moving around on the issue of how we're going to fund the government. i see very little response over the past two years from congressional republicans on everything from the president lying to us on air force one about how he funded a pole dancer for $130,000. clearly he lied, to whether we were safe in north korea. i don't care about what he did, in terms of his payment to somebody he had a relationship with. i care about moving forward our congressional republicans, his
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judgment is appropriate when we deal with issues like north korea and iran. the answer is, they're not going to do it. >> despite his best efforts, the government and its institutions are bigger than any one branch. even the presidency. it is interesting to she whether or not this will be the moment you heard men and women on both sides say quiet, no more. general, thank you so much. phil mudd, appreciate your perspective. as always. very important night to have you both. we have much more on what this mattis exit and the troop exit from two major theaters means for our collective safety. and also the border war is raging, and there is no solution in sight. the lawmaker who called the dh secretary a liar to her face is here to tell you why. next. hey. i heard you're moving into a new apartment.
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while in u.s. custody. homeland security secretary kirstejn nielsen explained it this way. >> this is a sad example of the dangers of this journey. this family chose to cross illegally. they came in such a large crowd it took our border control folks a couple times to get them all. >> pointing the finger of blame at the family. today she felt the heat. >> shame on everybody that separates children and allows them to stay at the other side of the border fearing death, fearing hunger, fearing sickness. shame on us for wearing our badge of christianity during christmas and allow the secretary to come here and lie. >> you're calling me a liar. i'm not a liar. a policy of family separation means any family i encounter in the interior i would separate. any family i found at a port of entry i would separate. every single family i found illegally crossing we would separate.
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we did none of those. what we did do is uphold the laws that congress has passed and prosecuted those who choose to come here illegally. >> that's not a time lapse. that was congressman gutierrez walking out on nilsson. he joins me now. welcome to "prime time." >> pleasure to be with you. >> let's deal with the urgency and we'll get into the context of the overall plan. >> sure. >> the president says forget what i said. i'm not going to have a cr if there's no wall attached to it, the house gives him the vote. the senate side, a lot of them are gone, so where do things stand? is there going to be a shutdown or not? >> i believe there is going to be a government shutdown. it's unfortunate and totally unnecessary. the senate made a proposal and let's remember the senate is controlled by republicans. we were ready to work, democrats were ready to bite the bullet today, we may not have been happy with the total context of the bill coming over, but we were ready to keep the government open, i think it's kind of sad, chris, that you
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have members of the republican party in the house saying, well, you know, those government employees, it comes with the territory, when they take a government job that they should expect to be on furlough from time to time, when the government closes. yeah, well, mr. congressman, lady congressman, you get your check, you're going to have a wonderful christmas. and you're going to have your health care. the callousness with which we treat our fellow americans, is really repugnant. >> what's the brass tax here. what would you have to give to get it done? >> we already said they could have a couple billion dollars in border enforcement. smart border enforcement. border enforcement that's going to help keep america safe. everybody knows you can't use the technology from the chinese in order to get a solution today. so look. it's old technology, let's use modern technology, smart technology.
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we are putting on the table $2 billion for border security so that we can continue to protect -- >> what do they want? >> they want a wall, and i just want to say this, chris, we've been on the program before talking, do you remember the hostage taking of the dreamers and the democrats response was $5 billion? >> right. >> and then they increased and so we said, how do -- what do we do with the kidnappers of our dreamers? what is the ransom, bernie sanders, elizabeth warren, dick durbin went and offered this president $25 billion? what did he say? no. because it isn't about the wall, it's about destroying our immigration system. it's about destroying and stopping this being a nation -- a welcoming nation. they want to destroy immigration as we know it, the foundation of america, that's what they want to destroy. until they destroy it, they will not be happy, the wall is simply one element. one symptom. >> what got you going today was the secretary proposed a plan
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where you can come here and apply for asylum, but you will stay in mexico pending the review of the application. the policy judgment being there if they get inside this country, there's going to be an attrition rate, catch and release is what it's called, you're not going to be able to find these people again. why don't you like that solution? >> we have asylum laws, refugee laws, those are the laws of our nation, those are the laws well established and i think that this new criteria being proposed of saying to people fleeing violence, death, gangs, murder, god, why should they have to wait on the other side of the border, when they can be victimized once again when they are 1,000 -- you know what we're going to have there, you're going to have illness, more murder, more rape, more harm coming to people that are fleeing. so i guess today, chris, you know, look, i'm a catholic, so i
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went to my first communion, my confirmation. maybe they didn't religiously teach us the bible all the time, but you know, there was something fundamental, it's christian, don't call it that, don't say happy holidays, say merry christmas, they want to emphasize their christianity. >> you have reason -- >> you know what, it's christmas. >> i get the idea of what the spirit of the season is, but compassion can also have an integrity to it, and the laws have enabled something we've never seen before. these mascara vans are being organized by some good people, some bad people. telling people go with your kids you will get in. go in big groups you can get in. the system cannot handle the flow. the rules have to change to enable people to treat others humanely. they can't do it right now. that's what that little girl's death tells you. all my reporting does not suggest the border patrol did
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anything wrong to her. the system did, they can't handle the flow. you have to do something, louie. >> here's -- chris, understand something, what does the richest, most powerful nation in the world do with the resources and the abundance that we have? what do we do? we say only 100 people can come at each point of entry. you're really telling me that's the capacity of the united states of america? that that's our humanity. >> you'll have backlog for years? >> i disagree with you respectfully, there are people there and it is part of a process that has been engineered to make the crossing of the -- okay, chris, when are we going to deal with the fact that the debilitation of the honduras. el salvador. salvador, guatemala is directly linked with the consumption of illegal drugs in the united states?
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we here in the united states through our consumption of those debilitate those economies. shouldn't we be working on both sides of the border to establish countries in which -- >> yes. >> everyone thinks you dial 911, chicago it may take 20 minutes. >> you should be taking on all of this stuff. >> that is the kind of comprehensive plan we need to engage in. we need to open up offices in each one of our embassies, if you fear and have an asylum case you'd like to bring, bring it to us and prepare it. >> bring it in. >> good, change the rule. >> we can put the kinds of outposts. we can say to the government of mexico, listen, we're going to help you, because this is the united states of america, and we're going to put a place where people can be treated humanely. i'm sorry, chris, but they keep telling us, oh, stop saying happy holidays, it's merry christmas. during the christmas season what would have been a baby jesus if we built a wall and he couldn't flee bethlehem. >> the moral imperative is action.
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you can have the spirit of christmas in your heart, you guys are of have to do more than fight about it. >> that's what you're saying, fight about it. you know this better than most, the speaker of the house was a chief proponent of comprehensive immigration reform. he came to chicago with me, stood with me at the city club to say we need a comprehensive. he signed on the bill i introduced in 2004, and then he becomes speaker of the house, i promise you i will never bring up a solution to our immigration issue. that is what they are doing. and then we have a president -- >> you got the ball now. >> we do, you know something, and we're going to use it. and we are going to use it constructively. it's sad we have lost the john mccains. it's really sad, and you know what, i still remember working with president bush the son.
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i remember working with him and bringing down his secretary. that does not exist any more. >> it's got to. >> that's what i hope today means to you guys. >> ronald reagan in 1984 was the pro immigrant force. what's happened to this republican party? they have used immigrants as a scapegoat and a tool for their own political gains. that's unfortunate. >> we're going to stay on it, we wish you the best for christmas, i hope everyone remembers the reason for the season. >> thank you. >> thank you. now, i keep asking, is this bottom for the president? everybody tells me no, by the way. general wesley clark said, wait until russia enters ukraine, if that happens, then you have a big shoe to drop. we know where we are. it's not good. where do we go from here. how do we get the cooperation that louie was just talking about? that's the start for the great debate next. managing my type 2 diabetes wasn't my top priority.
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new information on this day of disruption. it's time for our leaders to stand and be counted. one more just has. mitch mcconnell says this. i believe it is essential that the united states maintain and strengthen the post world war ii alliances that have been carefully built by leaders in both parties. we must maintain a clear eyed understanding of our friends and foes. and recognize nations like russia are among the ladder. i was sorry to learn that secretary mattis will soon depart the administration. i am particularly distressed he will leave his post. due to sharp differences with the president. and it's regrettable. you have to pick someone else, and hopefully when you do, the guy's like mattis. there is secretary majority
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leader mcconnell weighing in. this is stiff language for him. he's been at the head of the stand by parade when it comes to watching what president trump does. let's debate where we are, and where we're going to go. maul paul and mike shields. thanks to both. mike, is this a low moment for you guys on the right? seeing the fruits of disruption? the hope was, trump being disruptive would shake up the system and bring about something better. what's going on with this potential shutdown over christmas, withdrawing the troops this way, you can't be happy. what's happening with the markets. >> you know, i think what you're seeing is, people that have followed the president will tell you that there's a lot of things he issues that are not top of the list for him. health care, taxes are not the things he's talked about for years. when he ran on what he believes, what he and steve bannon worked together on. was changing our trade policy, changing our immigration policy and changing our policy
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overseas. they knew they wouldn't be able to do it without massive disruption. and people saying it's chaos. people expected this. i think what you're seeing is the president finally getting to the point where he's like, i'm going to carry out the policies that i ran on. and i don't really care how much chaos you think there is, that's what's going to happen when you're changing things. that's not necessarily even republican or democrat thing. there's republicans that are more for involvement in the middle east. barack obama ran on bring all the troops home everyone end all of our wars. that's not a republican or democrat thing. is that is a populous nationalist presidency that is finally doing the things he always said he was going to do. we're seeing the consequences of what he's keeping his promises on. >> so it's all going according to plan, begala? are you okay with that? >> i wish, i would sleep so much better.
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if i could believe that the president had a strategy. at all. i don't believe the president had a strategy at all. this is a guy that runs on impulse and grievance and whatever he saw this morning on fox and friends. the government is about to shut down because the president, who a day or two said he was okay with continuing the current funding until february 8th, now all of a sudden has flip-flopped on that, it's the chaos that causes these crisis. it's not that he has a strategy, i wish he did. he has impulses and grievances. and he's acting on them. the notion that he has these grievances against general mattis, is particularly upsetting. i was happy to see senator mcconnell stand up on his hind legs, as if he didn't run a co equal branch of the government. maybe this is a bit of a turning point. you have -- there's the mueller investigation looming. you have the government about to shut down. you have the stock market really dropping dismally in the last five sessions. the government's going to shut
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down now, maybe -- maybe you'll see republicans on the hill begin a check and a balance on this unchecked and unbalanced president. >> we've never seen a resignation like this this way. for these reasons. what does it mean to you? >> i share the concerns, i'm an air force brat, i have a tremendous amount of respect for general mattis. i think he served the president well. if the president brings in someone like mattis, it will calm everybody down and make them not as worried about it. i do believe there's a difference in policy here, and the policy difference is, that general mattis and people like marco rubio and mitch mcconnell and lots of republicans are more in favor of our alliances over seas, there's a populous sort of movement in the country that president trump represents that says we should disentangle ourselves on those alliances, and spend that money at home. there's plenty of democrats that agree with that. atd the populous level.
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>> i don't like that mattis and mcconnell both took time to mention russia in their letters and they don't think the president gets it, about russia. that's always been the central question, paul, and now to hear someone like mcconnell bring it up, today had nothing to do with russia, other than putin liking us getting out of syria, and that being a strategic advantage for him. they both went out of their way to mention the president's obvious point of disagreement with them on russia? >> russia is a threat. back, way back, i owe this to our audience, in 2012. m.i.t. romney said russia was our greatest threat. >> guys laughed at it. >> i jumped on his back as well, i was wrong. mitt was right. i hope he continues his focus on russia, what you're seeing today is vladimir putin gloating. his economy is a tenth of ours. his military is a tenth the size of ours. >> a lot of it is lined up on the border of ukraine right now. >> he's running us around the post. i'm not wise enough to know what
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we should do in syria. >> i look and i see that israel is angry and russia is happy. i start to think -- i'd much rather be alied with israel than russia. they're a democracy, they share our values. russia is none of those things, and yet -- that suggests to me that this very impulsive policy is bad. >> let's not get too carried away, that's why it's really important to see who comes in to lead the defense department, the policies of this administration have been stronger against russia than obama's policies against russia. we armed ukraine, we have armed ukraine to fight them with weapons, deadly weapons which russia didn't want. biden said to the russians, said to the ukrainians, come into crimea, don't fight. we put sanctions on the russians, we kicked out all their diplomats when they poisoned someone in london. there's been a pretty harsh policy agenda to push back on russia, it's not the same as the rhetoric we hear. a lot of that has come from the defense department. it would be interesting to see how much you have a strong
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anti-russia person put in -- >> you're just -- >> you dropped the sanctions. >> he dropped the sanctions yesterday, he was forced to do the sanctions by congress, he didn't want to. he complained about it, privately and publicly. and he will not say a negative word about vladimir putin, when the guy insults everybody else on the face of the planet? >> i've been on the air and said i disagree with the tone and the rhetoric of the helsinki conference, but i focus on the policy. the policy has been much more anti-russian than barack obama's policy -- >> not leaving syria. how is leaving syria being tough on russia? you're did giving them the playing field. >> i don't agree with it. i think that we are -- we should -- the president's been successful in syria up to this point, that's what's amazing about this, he has done things. we bombed a portion of syria directly against the wishes of the russians and we went right against them and carried out the
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mission anyway. we have put troops on the ground in russia. we did bomb the syrians when they used chemical weapons, which president obama would not do. when they crossed the red line. up until this point he's been strong on his syria policy. i think that's the right policy. >> you don't see this as a bottom? you don't see this as a point where your party is going to have to make a judgment about what it is and what it isn't? >> you sit back and look at this analytically, there's a movement of people that have a populous nationalist agenda, they elected the president to carry out that agenda. they always knew there woe be people on here saying, 24 is chaos. and thst crazy. that's what they wanted to see happen. they wanted the system of the way things were done on trade, immigration and foreign -- putting our military needs to be blown up, needs to be changed. and the president is carrying out exactly what he ran on. >> choices create opportunities and they're going to fall right on your plate coming in in january, paul. there's a plus/minus to that. you guys are coming into power
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at a good time, in terms of having a table set with problems, we have problems here. what you'll do about it, what choices you'll make, we'll see. what do you think the biggest ambition will be for democrats? >> the very first bill they're going to introduce is on voting writes. rights. and cleaning up the corruption. the president promised to drain the swamp. he filled it with bigger, uglier alligators. i think reforming that system to make it work for the middle class is really important. then they're going to move to things like health care, the president says he wants to reduce the cost of prescription drugs, he's done nothing about it. the president should call his bluff on that. >> what you're going to see, you're going to see the democrats controlling the house, passing bills that help the american middle class, that help them get to work easier. help them pay their prescription drug bills, help them pay their insurance bills. and then they're going to kick it over to the republicans, and they're either going to pass it or wish they had. the democrats won the biggest landslide in a midterm they've
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won in 40 years, they won it because they ran on middle class issues. donald trump betrayed that middle class. many people who had faith in him have been conned by don. that's -- >> here's what their agenda is. investigate and impeach, a lot of establishment democrats are naive. we've been through it in our party. they're starting to see what happens when the left wing of your base pushes you to the place where you can't go back from. you have presidential candidates in iowa being asked, what about this investigation, what do we do? they're not going fo avoid impeachment and over play their hand like the kavanaugh hearings. >> mike's smarter than me on everything. >> i know what the democrats plans are better than my republican -- >> we've lived through the changes that you haven't lived through yet. >> working people in this country who donald trump has buy by trayed.
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betrayed. with all policies. >> you're both right in one way. paul, you have to see which ways you guys are going to evolve on this. mike, you say you've lived through it, i don't know that's true. you have to figure out where you are. if i don't hear from you before that, merry christmas. >> be well. all kinds of chaos erupting in the season finale of the 2018 version of the trump show. will his base continue to stand by him if he doesn't get the wall? is it so important it's worth risking everything? we'll see. next. take your razor, yup. up and down, never side to side, shaquem, you got it? come on stay focused. hard work baby, it gonna pay off.
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the president's abrupt withdrawal from syria has general mattis walking. he is no longer the secretary of defense.
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and now a defense official with direct knowledge tells cnn the military has been ordered to withdraw half of our troops from afghanistan. even before we get to whomever the president picks as the next secretary of defense, there are questions about congress's role in all of this. let's get to that with matt gates who sits on the armed services committee. good to have you back. merry christmas to you and the family. >> merry christmas to you too, chris. >> scary day for you? >> not a scary day. i think it's always concerning when there's a major change in an area as volatile as syria. we've only trained up 20% of the forces necessary to secure the northern portions of the country and then in southern syria, i don't know what the answer is to ensure there's not permanent iranian presence that threatens our ally israel. syria has been a powder keg, we've been successful in driving out isis, you have turkey there, russia there, and i think it's a difficult situation.
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>> given our past conversations, i'm betting president gates doesn't make this move? you don't leave syria right now, you don't think isis is over. you don't think that war is over. and you think there's a lot of wood left to chop. how do you explain this? >> i would not remove u.s. influence in syria. i think there are ways we can exercise that influence that don't necessarily require a tremendous troop deployment there, i think the utilization of contractors to engage in more of a train and equip mission for local forces working with our allies to set up safe zones for people that are really trapped in a humanitarian crisis. those are things we can work with our allies on, work with the international community on. when i'm with the president, i can tell you, he is not someone who wants to maintain a foreign presence that is outsized for the united states of america. i think he wants to see more of america's moms and dads at home, and less of our treasure being spilled decade after decade in the middle east with little to show for it. >> the concern is about whether
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or not leaving means have you to go back in a bigger way. we've lived this story now twice. obama made a mistake doing this, president george w. bush made a mistake doing it this way. it seemed that secretary mattis didn't want to be part of not learning that lesson. how concerned are you he's leaving? >> he's a great american, he's a patriot. i've enjoyed working with him, the department of defense was operating effectively and efficiently under his leadership. the president will find there are other folks that can be secretary of defense. i'm not scared or frightened that he's leaving. the president is intitled to a secretary of defense that is shares his world view. >> the generals are gone, and they've been such a big selling point for the president, don't worry, we'll be fine, look at all these generals i have around me. now there are none left. >> i think there are few generals that work for the president of the united states. >> all of them work for the president of the united states.
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those close to him. advisors. we'll have to see who replaces them now. having steven miller come out to calm the american people on a day like today. let me ask you this, the shutdown is also royaling things, are you comfortable with a shutdown over christmas, because of a wall that comes down to a dollar amount. >> i don't think this is about the wall, i think it's about depriving the president of a win on a campaign issue that was central to his election. the hypocrisy among senate democrats is ridiculous. 10 senate democrats have voted on the homeland security on the appropriations package that includes $25 billion for border security. they're not i'd yo logically opposed. in 2006 schumer said our local governments we had to save them from being overrun. >> it's true. >> again, i don't think this is really even about immigration, i think here at the end of republican control, the president wants to squeeze out another win, his base expects that reasonably.
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i think democrats want to deprive him of that win. >> i think you have to be honest about what's happening, though. the wall is a farce the way it's presented by the president. as you know, you've done your homework on this. i have been down there. they want more barrier systems. sometimes it's that big fence with the slots, other times it's masonitis, other times it's different kinds of wire. different tips types of technology. they need different things in different places. fair enough, that's what they need. the cell on the wall was a brand new wall, the whole stretch of the thing and mexico's going to pay for it. that was never ever going to happen. doesn't he have to let that dream die and replace it with the reality of getting as much money as you can to secure the border. >> if you've heard the president's remarks this last week, he's focused on the family that needs to feel safe in their communities. if the senate will pass what they passed out of committee with 10 votes, 25 billion more for border security.
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1.6 billion of that for wall funding. i would encourage the president to take that. >> why won't he? >> well, look, that has not been offered. i don't think the senate is willing to do that dhs package with the full 25 billion for border security. if they're willing to do 25 i think, you know, that's something -- >> they brought to him and he backed away because republicans wanted to tack on more different types of aspects of legal immigration curtailment as well. he had that deal. he walked way from it. >> look, there are elements of legal immigration that still need a great deal of reform. increasing in some areas, decreasing in others, what's strategic for the american economy. the question is whether or not you view immigration as some social engineering project or whether immigration ought to be an economic development tool for the country. i think for democrats it's more about the social engineering for republicans, we want the folks here we need here to have a thriving dynamic -- >> what does that means, social engineering?
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>> i'm talking about the chain migration where we're not necessarily bringing the most qualified competent people -- >> you mean the way the first lady got her parents into the country? >> i'm not saying that people who followed the laws as they were written did anything wrong. i'm saying that's not the most strategic economic development path. i know plenty of people who have come here from chain migration. that doesn't mean it was the best choice for the country. >> right. as a policy, what you've done right now is we have a stalemate, right, on the border. you have a flow that the system can't handle. and you are now all caught up in the politics of a wall, which is at best one part of a very complex set of solutions. >> no, that's not true. we have tried to pass e-verify, the senate won't take it up. we have tried to change the country caps so that people from one country aren't penalized because not enough people from another country have been let in the country -- >> -- >> i don't think he's running it all that well. if he was serious about delivering this we'd have the
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votes -- >> so what's going to happen if it shuts down, what are you going to tell people over christmas? >> i think we need to give the american people a sense of comfort that in january, in 2019, the government will be open. i think the president could nmae that assurance if he chose to. if he could keep every member of the senate and the house here over the break working and doing everything possible in the final movements, use your favorite sports metaphor, run through the tape or the echo of the whistle to make sure we get the most out of the republican majority we have. from the standpoint of my voters we're not going to get a good deal with nancy pelosi as speaker. we are vested to get the best we can. >> the problem you have is everything that's happened, like today, this president has -- doesn't have the ability to keep your party in town. they left with smiles on their faces. >> i think they're coming back. >> we'll see. matt gates, the best to you for christmas. i'll be talking to you soon. >> same to you, chris. >> be well. the dysfunction we're seeing
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goes far beyond any of the president's decisions. it is time for the people in congress to do the job they were put there to do. we're going to give you a closing argument on exactly that. that's the solution. next. ♪ ♪ ♪ (vo) you do more than grant wishes when you share the love. you give hope. get a new subaru, like the all new forester, and charities like make-a-wish can receive two hundred and fifty dollars from subaru. (vo) get zero percent during the subaru share the love event. for a limited time, $50 for them $10 for you. applebee's. now that's eatin' good in the neighborhood. little things can be a big deal.
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let's do it like this. let's be clear about where we are and we can see where we . this has been a day of even ardent trump folk are quiet. many say you like the idea trumpism will shake things up, mess with the system, dynamic disruption. well, this is what that looks like. happy? the moment as metaphor. in the dark hour as economic and foreign and domestic policies implode in support of trumpism, among republican ranks goes quiet, who comes out to represent the white house, to address this anxious country? this guy, stephen miller, a young man who has come to represent much of what people reject about trumpism. why him? the president should have been out there. he should be out there right now. and you know what? he knows it. he knows that the president should be talking to me, he should be talking to all of you and telling us why this will be okay, what his plan is, that he has an explanation. instead, he posted a video of himself singing "green acres"
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just minutes before mattis resigned. a shutdown over the wall, the stock market plummeting, certainly in part because of trumpism. and then came the big quit, the break point for mattis deserves notice. the president cuts and runs in syria reportedly as turkey told him to get out of the way and as putin gave him a pat on the ass on the way out. he'll do it again in afghanistan. didn't you see what happened with bush and obama? you think we've won the war against isis? there are tens of thousands of them still out there, and more importantly, it's in the vacuum of our presence when we're not there. that's when we've seen taliban, al qaeda, isis, the weak and the marginalized fall under their control. like in afghanistan with the taliban. where does it leave us? the generals are gone. the real wall, the one between this president and his poorest instincts is gone. who do we look to now?
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chief of staff mick mulvaney? also a man who referred to our president as a democrat going, who embarrassed him during the election and gave childish and simplistic answers. that man is now arguably his closest counsel. how long can that last? but here is the part that too many are missing in all this trump mania. our government does not begin and end with the presidency. certainly not this one. this is the moment for congress, left and right, to take back the power and start doing its job. standing back, watching, has not served you or your constituents well. you can pass laws. you can do it veto proof. budget issues, immigration. is it really so farfetched, so hard to imagine that two-thirds of you can agree on what america is about? issues like syria, afghanistan? they're actually easier. we all believe that it's all about the president because you've led us to that misbelief. you have surrendered your power
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to this president and others. the constitution gives you the duty to declare war, not the president. you've run from it because you're afraid of what happened when you voted for the war in iraq. you don't want to own it. it frankly was going on before that. do your duty. stop talking about it and do it. review the authorization for the use of military force. demand that the president come to you as the law and the constitution commands. this moment is a low point for this president, but his inadequacy is not your excuse. this moment means something for you, congressmen and women as well. you are on notice that you must do more. i know you're all leaving to go be with your family. we'll see what it looks like. while you're there, think about what they expect. shaking your head and those uneasy laughs we have these days about how crazy everything is in d.c. it's not enough. you wanted power.
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you have it. you raised your hand. now use it and get things done. history is being written and you are wrong to think that the beginning and end of the story will be president trump. what will history say about you in this moment? thank you for watching cnn tonight with d. lemon starts right now. >> it's like the wizard of oz, chris. seriously. once you expose the man behind the curtain, you see what you get. we saw it in the oval office with nancy pelosi and chuck schumer, and all of these lawmakers seem to be afraid of him when their greatest power is if they stand up to the president and to the rule of law and to the constitution. >> they have a duty to do so. this last election reinforced that mandate. they shouldn't have needed that example for it to be made manifest in their own actions. you saw mitch mcconnell come out tonight. little strong for him. he mentioned russia, mattis

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